Mason Job Description
Masons are people who construct or repair things by using layers of materials. The largest field of masonry workers is cement masons/concrete finishers, followed closely by brickmasons/block masons. Others find employment as stonemasons or terrazzo workers/finishers. Because they lift, bend, kneel, carry materials, and spend a great deal of time on their feet, masons need to be in good physical shape and possess stamina. Worksites can be indoors or outside, depending on the nature of the project, and may be quite muddy or dusty. Masons tend to work full-time, though inclement weather may affect hours. Similarly, they may be particularly busy during times when the weather is pleasant and precipitation limited.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of masons will grow 12 percent between 2016 and 2026. Much of this increase will result from the need to repair bridges, highways, sewers, and other parts of the aging U.S. infrastructure. Also, demand for brick houses should continue as the population increases.
Mason Duties and Responsibilities
The type of masonry one chooses to specialize in will affect daily activity. However, an analysis of job ads shows that some tasks are common in many masonry positions. Here are some things masons can expect to do:
Whether you’re laying out a walkway on a college campus or constructing a brick fireplace in a new home, plans must be followed. Masons know how to interpret blueprints and diagrams in order to perform projects exactly as specified.
Clients want to know how much time work will take to complete and how much the total cost will be. Masons carefully evaluate the materials and labor involved in a project to contribute to this information.
Masons physically build or repair structures. This may involve binding bricks together with mortar to create a house. Or it might mean guiding concrete to the proper place to fix a sidewalk and then using tools to distribute it and smooth the top. Throughout the process, masons make measurements, inspect work, and ensure visual appeal.
Construction sites pose a variety of risks. Masons are expected to do their part in preventing accidents by cleaning up the environment and the tools, being mindful of their actions, and wearing appropriate safety gear such as hard hats and reflective vests.
Physically being able to build or repair things is at the core of being a mason. But hiring managers also look for candidates with these abilities:
- Working well with others since projects are typically done in teams
- Listening to directions so that work is done properly and safety is maintained
- Monitoring situations, such as weather and what others are doing, in order to make adjustments and maintain quality
- Displaying a good eye for detail
- Taking pride in one’s work
Mason Tools of the trade
If you plan on becoming a mason, it is good to become familiar with the following things:
- Concrete – a rocklike substance produced by mixing sand, gravel or crushed stone with a paste of Portland cement and water in specific quantities
- Portland cement – the type of cement used in most concrete
- Terrazzo – a composite material used for floor and wall treatments
- Bricks – small blocks of hardened clay
- Mortar – a mixture used as a bonding agent between bricks or stones
- Mixer – a revolving drum that homogeneously mixes the ingredients of concrete
- Forms – structures, often made of wood or metal, designed to hold and shape poured concrete
- Forklifts – transportation machinery used by some masons to move items from one area to another
- Spreading, leveling, and smoothing tools – shovels, rakes, trowels, and similar items used to position the concrete where it needs to be or to smooth out mortar
- Power washer – a machine that sprays high-pressure water to clean dry concrete
- Blueprints – design plans or technical drawings showing what will be created
- Safety gear – hardhats, earplugs, protective glasses, and other things worn to help prevent injury
Mason Education and Training
Masons usually possess a high school diploma or the equivalent. Post-secondary training often involves a combination of classes at a technical or vocational school and learning through an apprenticeship program under the tutelage of experienced masons. Aspiring Masons may start out as construction laborers and work their way up as they gain more skills.
The median annual salary for masons is $41,330. Masons in the 10th percentile earn less than $26,940 a year, and the highest paid make in excess of $74,300 a year. Brick masons in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington earn the highest median salaries in the U.S. — $81,620, $81,270 and $70,530, respectively. For cement masons, the highest median salaries are found in Alaska ($68,110), New York ($67,270), and Hawaii ($66,540).
If becoming a mason sounds interesting to you, check out these other sources of information:
Mason Contractors Association of America – This trade organization represents mason contractors and is “committed to preserving and promoting the masonry industry by providing continuing education, advocating fair codes and standards, fostering a safe work environment, recruiting future manpower, and marketing the benefits of masonry materials.” The group also publishes a monthly magazine called Masonry.
International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers – Founded in 1865, this trade union is a go-to place for everything related to masonry work.
The International Masonry Institute – Get the latest industry news or check out continuing education opportunities at this website devoted to masonry.
Home Builders Institute – Its stated mission is “to advance and provide education, career development, training, and placement of men and women serving the building industry.” To this end, the website offers a wealth of information on apprenticeships, licensing, and safety.
Wikipave – The American Concrete Pavement Association hosts this encyclopedic resource sure to be of use to cement masons.
Cement Mason and Concrete Finisher Career: The Insider’s Guide to Finding a Job at an Amazing Firm, Acing the Interview and Getting Promoted – Masons looking to increase job prospects and satisfaction may want to take a look at this book.
Modern Masonry: Brick, Block, Stone – People wishing for a general overview of masonry may want to read this book, which also contains information on environmental issues and building codes.
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